I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Red Wine. Red Velvet.

Among our group of friends, there are three different February birthdays to be celebrated so Boy Toy and I made plans to encompass all the Aquarius and Pisces among us into one big gathering at one of our favorite places, Morgan Ridge Vineyards.  One birthday girl particularly likes red velvet cake so I decided to put a little different spin on things by making a red velvet cheesecake from a recipe that I found on Pinterest for everyone to enjoy.  We discovered that it pairs really well with red wine!

Toward the end of June, Boy Toy and I spent a lovely afternoon at Morgan Ridge Winery and quickly put it on our list of things we must do again.  We were so stoked to see the Living Social deal offered in January that we spread the word to all of our friends and loaded up 12 of them and headed back there for the birthday celebration. They have a beautiful patio and pavilion area but we were relegated to staying indoors this time because of the cold rainy weather. Once again we had a lovely time - the tour, the tasting, the cheese plate, the variety of wines and the camaraderie we shared were still the conversation buzz at dinner a couple of hours later.

And can I just say that here it is two days later and the red velvet cheesecake is still the buzz among everyone too.  It was probably one of the best cheesecakes I've ever made (running a very close race with this one) and there was not one crumb left to verify its existence.  I've already been asked to repeat the performance.  

The vibrant red color was enough to WOW the crowd and the addition of tangy buttermilk added a certain creamy richness not found in other cheesecakes.  Some reviewers at Recipe Girl, where the recipe seems to have originated, said they thought the amount of cream cheese frosting was too much but I'm here to tell you that it totally made the cake.  Just like cream cheese frosting on a red velvet cupcake or cake, you can never have enough and it was the crème de la crème of dessert.  Don't skimp on that part!

I had a box of edible silver from a long ago purchase at Dean & Deluca that I finally decided to break open and use for garnish.  It retailed for $44 and I got it for a steal of a deal from the discount bin but I still used it sparingly.  It added just the right amount of birthday bling but if you change out the garnishes, this red beauty would be a hit for Christmas or Valentine's Day.

Red Velvet Cheesecake with Cream Cheese Frosting

printable recipe

17 Oreo cookies, crushed finely
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon granulated white sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 ounces red food coloring (two 1-ounce bottles)
3 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
heavy duty foil

Directions: 1. Prepare crust: Stir together Oreo crumbs, melted butter, and 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar; press mixture into bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare water bath: Fill large roasting pan (big enough for springform pan to fit into) with about 1 inch of water. Place in oven and allow to preheat along with the oven.

3. Prepare filling: Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium-low speed with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Add eggs and remaining cheesecake ingredients, mixing on low speed just until fully combined. Pour batter into prepared crust.

4. Take out two sheets of heavy duty foil and layer them on top of one another. Place springform pan on top of the foil and wrap the foil gently around the pan and up the sides. Make sure that there are no tears or holes and that the foil comes all the way up around all sides of the cake. Carefully place the foil-protected pan into the water bath in the preheated oven.

5. Bake for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 300°F. Bake for an additional 75 minutes or until the center is firm. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven. Carefully remove cheesecake from water bath and place on wire rack. Run a thin knife around the outer edge of the cheesecake. Cool on rack for a couple of hours, until the cheesecake becomes close to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours (or overnight). Remove sides of springform pan.

6. Prepare frosting: Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth. Spread evenly on top of cheesecake. Garnish, if desired.

Source: (Adapted from Southern Living)

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